The Spanish grape varieties Scots’ favourite destination has to offer

10 July 2020


Wine columnist John Kelman of Rutabaga looks to Spain’s warmer climate for his wine recommendations this week.

With holiday destinations opening up to those who look to travel abroad and for those who wish to holiday closer to home, we look towards Spain, the UK’s top travel destination for our wine inspiration this fortnight.

It’s not just red wines from Rioja (Tempranillo) that immediately jump out when we delve into Spain’s cellar, so to give you a real insight into what the country has to offer, let’s taste some of the other delights our Spanish friends have created.

Our selection includes red and white wines with Garnacha, Verdejo, Albarino, as well as some blended grape varieties making it into our shopping basket and wine glasses.

White Rioja – Viura, will be the predominant grape variety within this style, when we look at the region of Rioja, we’ll focus on the grape variety Tempranillo. Albarino will bring citrus and minerality into the mix, too.

Wines from one of the big four supermarkets and online and local independent retailers are in the mix within this dozen.

And my dining suggestions are purely subjective but based on plenty of practice.

Espartero, Verdejo and Malvasia, Rioja, Spain, 2019 – 12% alc./vol.

A wonderful zesty zip to this easy-on-the-pocket white Rioja, chilled down for a warm summer sip with a seafood paella made at home with some sustainable fish from the North Sea or east coast perhaps?

Vina Sol, Parellada and Grenache Blanca, Catalonia, Spain, 2019 – 12% alc./vol. (Vegan)

A “weel kent” (well-known) wine label, this fruit forward white wine boasts a crisp finish. Try pairing it with some freshly grilled mackerel, pea shoots and nutty pesto for the ultimate flavour explosion.

Diez Siglos, Verdejo, Rueda, Spain, 2018 – 13% alc./vol.

With peachy, stone-fruit notes and a distinct minerality, steam some langoustine tails with parsley, butter and a splash of the wine you are enjoying (if you can spare it) when diving into this bottle.

El Tesoro, Monastrell Shiraz, Jumilla, Spain, 2017 – 14% alc./vol.

A full plummy red with a rich and spicy Syrah (also known as Shiraz) hit, you could easily sip this gorgeous wine on its own, but why not pair it with a charred Highland steak of your choice or perhaps a lamb steak (gigot chop) with homemade chimichurri using fresh green herbs.

Castillo De Logrono, Viura and Chardonnay, Rioja, Spain, 2018 – 12.5% alc./vol.

Punchy exotic fruits with great body and mouthfeel, this white Rioja, while not inexpensive, hits the mark. Some steeped chicken with chopped spring onion and ginger and a little rice or salad would make the perfect lunch companion for this wine.

Finca Manzanos, Viura and Chardonnay, Rioja, Spain, 2019 – 12.5% alc./vol.

A crisp, fresh wine with a little zing to it, this restaurant quality wine comes from a well-established family house. Kick back on the sofa with a little Manchego cheese and smoked meats.

Marin Berdugo, Tempranillo, Ribera Del Duero, Spain, 2018 – 14% alc./vol.

A contemporary wine from the other side of the river, you’ll find plenty of cherry and plum notes in this youthful and un-oaked expression. Cook up some fabada (a rich Spanish bean stew) to match, adding a twist with some local black pudding, chorizo and butter beans.

Eiral, Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, 2018 – 13% alc./vol.

A dry white wine with floral notes and minerality, as you would expect, some fish to complement this wine would pair beautifully, especially with a fusion of citrus laden ceviche of octopus, too.

Pegaso, Garnacha, Baja Montaña, Spain, 2018 – 13% alc./vol.

Perfect for the ubiquitous BBQ, this wine is swimming in dark fruits. A Garnacha with great structure for a value wine, serve it with a charred chilli and tomato marinated skirt steak, cut against the grain – perfecto.

Mas Buscados, Tempranillo/Syrah/Petit Verdot blend, Tierra De Castilla, Spain, 2019 – 13.5% alc./vol.

Big black berries from this three grape blend give it a meaty ABV for a balanced mid-priced, mid-week wine. A pisto vegetable stew with warm homemade bread will keep everyone happy. – BUY AT RUTABAGA

Gatito Loco, Tempranillo and Garnacha, Organic, Rioja, Spain, 2018 – 14% alc./vol.

This fully organic blend will suit all tastes and is suitable for vegan sensibilities. With no oak, this is a young and vibrant wine. Best shared with friends over your take on tapas. – BUY AT RUTABAGA

Cair, Tempranillo/Merlot blend, Ribera Del Duero, Spain, 2017 – 14.5% alc./vol.

A sophisticated wine with an edge, it is vibrant but with subtle tannins. A little under a year of oak aging, this beauty is from a modern winery. Sunday roast lamb and some peach and cashew bulgar wheat will go nicely. Enjoy! – BUY AT RUTABAGA